Friday, July 15, 2011

Haejangguk (해장국)

Last night one of my friends uploaded a picture of haejangguk on his Facebook wall. Then the caption says "during rainy days, nothing beats eating haejangguk." I couldn't stop staring at the picture and after 5 minutes I just found myself waiting for a bus going to the nearest Haejangguk restaurant from my dorm, even if it was already almost midnight. hahaha. So why the h*ll did I go out late at night just to eat haejangguk?

What is Haejangguk?
Haejangguk is usually eaten to "cure" hangovers. It means "soup to chase a hangover"[citation] Knowing Korean culture of drinking, it's not a surprise why food specifically made to cure hangover was made in the first place.As far as I know, there are more hangover dishes besides haejangguk probably I'll write something about it next time. I understand why my friend ate haejangguk even if he wasn't drunk. For one reason it's really tasty. That's why just seeing the picture made me crave for it.

Brief History
It is assumed that haejangguk's origin is seongjutang (醒酒湯) which means "soup to get sober" during the   Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). According to the record, the soup consists of thinly sliced meat, noodles, scallions, and powder of cheoncho (천초) in a broth which are also the same basic recipe of a present day haejangguk[citation] It's not written on any cookbooks during Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910) but relevant contents can be seen in paintings and documents of the late Joseon Dynasty. The food was not only for the common people even high ranking officials loved it.

According to sources, haejangguk's taste is different depending on the region of origin and how it is cooked. In general, there are three different kinds -- "sunji (cow-blood) haejangguk,’’"kongnamul (bean sprout) haejangguk,’’ and "puko (dried Pollack) haejangguks. 

For more information just visit the links I attached below. 

How is it different from kamjatang?
There's another dish called kamjatang (감자탕) , also one of my favorites, which is "exactly" the same as pyeo haejangguk. But Koreans always make a distinction between them. I can only think of 2 differences one is the quantity. Kamjatang's serving is usually good for 2 or more people but haejangguk is in a small bowl good for one serving. The second difference is the potato on the kamjatang. There's no potato in haejangguk. Although potato in Korean is kamja, the kamja in kamjatang is not the potato. I'll tell you next time what it is when I write about kamjatang. hehe
Before, when my Korean was still very basic, every time I go to a haejangguk-kamjatang restaurant I always say kamjatang to the ajumoni. I didn't know that all the time she was serving me haejangguk. Since I'm alone, I think she kept on assuming I meant pyeo haejangguk. That's why every time I go with my friends even if I wanna eat haejangguk since it's way cheaper, I always tell them we eat kamjatang. hahaha.


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